We asked teachers in our program how their students responded when they introduced inquiry into their science classes. Their answers reveal classrooms of eager, excited students who can’t wait for science to begin and who are learning valuable skills. Here’s a sampling:
“Students loved science lessons (literally, some asked to use recess time to build in more minutes for investigations with balance and motion)! They were more engaged. Through interdisciplinary links, they also searched for and shared, with each other and through writing, more science content knowledge.” (Smita Garg, 2nd grade, Pershing East Elementary)
“The students (or my little scientists) took so much ownership over their notebooks. They had pride in their work — even those who found it difficult to keep things neat and tidy — really pushed themselves to do so. The use of focus questions really helped the scientists to understand what it was that they were specifically trying to ‘take away’ from their learning exploration. The claims and evidence charts helped them to organize their analysis of what happened, and I found often produced stronger observations than just simply prompting them to write an analysis. I used signals and a prolonged wait time without confirmation of correct or incorrect responses across all subject areas. WOW! My scholars loved this! It was a challenge for them to produce an idea and so rewarding once they got the nod from me that their idea was noted. It increased the amount of thinking in the classroom and promoted a more secure environment in which to share our thoughts and feelings.” (Amanda Bernacki, 4th grade, Pershing West)
“They are very thoughtful — Graphs and charts became a staple within our science class — my third graders went from struggling to understand graphs and charts in relation to science to creating their own without guidance to record data! Science is a favorite subject for all! Including the teacher!” (Laura Shakespeare, 3rd grade, Langford Elementary)
“Their oral participation has increased knowing that there is more than one answer to the same question. I have a lot more students willing to share their work than I can take in a class period.” (Lidia Ariaga, 3rd & 4th grade, Byrne Elementary) Lidia also told us that her students are turning in their homework (100%), so that they can participate as scientists. ”Scientists are responsible people.”
“My students’ reactions became more and more positive as I released the amount of responsibility on to them. They were excited to seek answers to their own questions and demonstrate/apply their understanding of other disciplines (graphing data). My students also seemed inspired by the additional exposure to science careers, as they were overheard on numerous occasions talking about becoming a meteorologist, vet, pediatrician, astronaut. One student even wrote about being the latter in a poem during her library period! (Christina Frum, 4th grade, Kohn Elementary)
“Kids want to do more hands on activities! I have heard kids say ‘I love science!’ This is cool. This makes me <3 happy!” (Diane Esquibel, 7th-8th grade, Durkin Park)
When students offer to give up recess time to do more science, when they talk about pursuing careers in science, when they are contributing more during class and are more engaged than you’ve ever seen them before, doesn’t it make your heart happy, like Diane’s? And isn’t that what you came into teaching to do? To inspire kids to love to learn?
How have your students responded to inquiry science? Please share your experiences by leaving a comment.